POLICE in Bulawayo yesterday imposed a 6PM to 6AM curfew in the city in line with the localised lockdown measures meant to curb the spread of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.
Businesses in the city centre and Covid-19 hotspot suburbs will now operate from 8AM and close at 3PM as part of the lockdown conditions.
This follows a Cabinet directive on Tuesday that most Bulawayo suburbs be put on lockdown as a measure to contain the surge of Covid-19 cases and deaths.
The affected suburbs are: Nkulumane, Pelandaba, Emganwini, Sizinda, Barham Green, Emakhandeni, Cowdray Park, Luveve, Njube, Magwegwe, Pumula, Nguboyenja Makokoba, Mzilikazi, Mpopoma and the CBD.
In a statement, Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said effective Friday, police will be deployed to monitor compliance.
“Business hours are now between 8 AM– 3PM meaning that all shops and businesses in town must close at that time and this applies to the rest of the suburbs that have been declared hotspots. We are calling for maximum cooperation from members of the public so that we see this phase passing smoothly,” he said.
“Curfew for the named areas is now between 6PM to 6AM. We are not expecting to see anyone moving around from those areas within the said times as people should be within their homes. Public transport in the named areas must not exceed half the maximum capacity according SI 183/21.Operators not affected by this lockdown must not overload.”
He said only essential services workers will be allowed to move around as police are setting up roadblocks to check for compliance.
He said members of the public must observe all Covid-19 protocols as police will be deployed in full force to arrest lawbreakers.
Government has placed hotspot areas under localised lockdowns with the country on Wednesday recording 766 new cases.
As of 23 June 2021, Zimbabwe had 43 480 confirmed cases, including 37 477 recoveries and 1 692 deaths. To date, a total of 715 056 people have been vaccinated against Covid-19.
Speaking after receiving a donation worth US$1,4 million from China yesterday, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care, said the Government will continue monitoring hotspots which will be prioritised when the country receives its next batch of Covid-19 vaccines.
“Now that Government has procured more vaccines, we want everyone to be vaccinated starting with those border towns and hotspot areas. We will also move into market places like Mbare in Harare and eRenkini in Bulawayo. No vaccination, no table. Protect your customers by getting vaccinated,” he said.
Satewave Technologies a Zimbabwean-based Chinese company donated 57 PCR machines, SARS-CoV-2 PCR reagents that detect different variant of SARS-CoV-2 and traditional Chinese medicine to Zimbabwe yesterday.
Vendors at Old Renkini Bus Terminus in Bulawayo said they are ready for vaccination and called for the Government to also provide free testing services at their sites.
When Chronicle visited the terminus yesterday, a majority of vendors were spotted with masks hanging from their chins and were not practising social distancing.
Some were in groups playing cards and draughts while others were just milling around in groups.
Ms Chipo Mudiwa (35) who sells soft drinks said she was not aware that the place is a hotspot.
“If the vaccines come, I am willing to be vaccinated. The fears we had before when the vaccination programme started are gone. We want to continue conducting our business with a peace of mind. I also wish the Government can provide testing services here occasionally so that we know our status as we continue selling our wares,” she said.
Mr Mwenda Zulu (36) said: “If they come here, I will be the first to volunteer to take the vaccine. We should have been given priority since we work at these risky public areas. Imagine all buses to Harare, Gokwe, Nkayi, Mutare, Filabusi among others rank here so this place is at a big risk.”
Mr Zulu said Covid-19 has impacted negatively on their business.
He said they have a committee which is supposed to monitor their compliance during working hours but the situation on the ground pointed to the contrary.
Another vendor, Ms Miriam Dube said the Bulawayo City Council officials have been visiting them to ensure that they adhere to all Covid-19 regulations.
She said due to the increasing statistics of Covid-19 in the country, all the people must be vaccinated.
“Umkhuhlane uyamemetheka kakhulu, so if the vaccines are brought, we will gladly volunteer to be inoculated. Those who had fears in the beginning are now convinced that the vaccine works and this time we will get the jab in numbers.
“People are dying so if this vaccine will improve the quality of our life, we will mobilise each other to get the vaccine,” she said.
Mr Obey Sibanda who sells vegetables said vendors cannot afford to shut business again.
“Nxa sekuvalwa kuyabe sekunzima so the vaccines must come, if the President was vaccinated who are we to refuse.
“This is our business we pay our rentals and feed our families from it so we must be protected so that we continue with our work,” he said.
Said Mr Derick Sibanda: “Siyafuna ukuhlatshwa sizimisile sibili. Being self-employed is difficult so staying at home is not an option.
“If being vaccinated will allow us to continue working here let them vaccinate us. The city council is always coming here to monitor and educate us and we have been telling them we want to be tested and vaccinated,” he said.
Ms Getrude Takaza said: “We have learnt that some people do not show symptoms so we never know who is infected or not.
“The Government must speed up the vaccination programme as we are ready. We want to be tested as well because Covid-19 has really affected us.”
In a survey around the city, our newscrew observed some members of the public moving around without masks while others were not wearing them properly.
In some supermarkets, till operators, who serve hundreds of customers per day, had dropped their masks while other shops are no longer checking customers’ temperature. – Chronicle